Transcript of Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng's Exclusive Interview with CGTN on Issues Relating to China's Foreign Affairs
Q1: The United States' 20-year long war in Afghanistan ended up in its hasty withdrawal. What can people learn from this?
Le Yucheng: What happened in Afghanistan is an epitome of the once-in-a-century changes across the world. The most important thing to be learned is that the time has passed when superpower can just throw its weight around. The United States is a giant, mighty and formidable, while Afghanistan is a war-torn country, poor and weak. But everyone sees clearly how the United States left Afghanistan in a panic after paying a high price. As we said before, gone are the days when one country, armed with only a couple of cannons, could occupy another. The Afghan War once again shows that hegemony cannot be maintained however advanced the weapons you have.
Follow-up: What is the biggest lesson from the United States policy on Afghanistan? Do you think that the United States will learn a lesson?
Le Yucheng: There is an ancient Chinese saying - power may win for the time being, but justice prevails in the long run. The keyword here is justice - without justice, no one can succeed no matter how strong they are.
Despite its repeated mistakes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the United States seems to have yet learned a lesson. The U.S. declared that it ended the Afghan War to focus on major country competition, meaning with China. But in 20 years from now, the U.S. would realize that it has probably targeted a wrong enemy and made an even bigger mistake. As an online comment points out, with an expired ticket from the Cold War era, one cannot board the high-speed train of the 21st century.
Q2: During the National Day holidays, Director Yang Jiechi had a meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Zurich, Switzerland. Before this, the presidents of the two countries had two phone calls, and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Special Envoy John Kerry visited China. Are these frequent high-level contacts signs of improvement in bilateral relations?
Le Yucheng: Since the beginning of the year, President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden had two phone calls. They reached important common understandings, pointing the way forward for China-U.S. relations. Diplomatic representatives from the two sides held talks in Anchorage, Tianjin, and last week in Zurich. Vice Premier Liu He had a virtual meeting with USTR Katherine Tai a few days ago. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry visited China twice this year. I list all these high-level talks we had with the U.S. to indicate that China is always ready to act with goodwill, sincerity, and work to improve China-U.S. relations, and that our door to dialogue is open at any time. In addition, the two sides have recently established a joint working group to discuss how to address some specific issues in bilateral relations. And they do have made some progress. This proves that dialogue and cooperation are indispensable, and that confrontation and conflict will lead us nowhere. We take seriously U.S. recent positive statements on China-U.S. relations. We hope to see them translated into policies and actions, and more concrete steps being taken so that the two sides can work together to answer what we call the "Question of the Century": whether we can handle our relations well. This is a question the two sides must provide a good answer.
Follow-up: Will there be a presidential summit in the near future? If so, will it be a turning point?
Le Yucheng: In his phone call with President Joe Biden, President Xi Jinping agreed to maintain frequent contact through multiple means. To follow through on what was agreed by the two presidents, the representatives of the two countries discussed in Zurich a meeting between the two presidents through video link by the end of the year. In the meantime, the two sides need to work together to build a good atmosphere and create positive conditions for the two presidents to meet.
Q3: Early Oct., US Trade Representative Katherine Tai gave a preview of the Biden Administration's trade policy on China. She said decoupling is not realistic, and that re-coupling a distant possibility. But she also mentioned working with like-minded economies to counter China's "non-market practices". What are your comments?
Le Yucheng: We have noted that there are some positive elements in the USTR's remarks. At the same time, we firmly reject her groundless accusations. I want to stress that China and the United States are an indivisible community with shared interests. Despite U.S. attempts of decoupling and disruption of the supply chain and the impact of COVID-19, two-way trade still expanded by 8.8 percent in 2020. And in the first eight months this year, bilateral trade rose to 470 billion dollars, up by 36.6 percent year on year. Economic cooperation and trade are vital to the shared interests of China and the United States, and any setback will be fundamentally harmful. According to reports released by Moody's, trade war with China has cost the U.S. around 300 thousand jobs, and every American family has lost about 600 dollars. Over 90 percent of the costs caused by the extra tariffs on Chinese imports have been borne by American companies and consumers.
樂玉成：我們注意到美國貿易代表的講話中有一些積極因素，同時堅決拒絕其無端指責。我想強調的是，中美是不可分割的利益共同體，即便在美方搞脫鉤斷供和疫情沖擊的背景下，中美貿易額 2020 年逆勢增長 8.8%，今年1至8月，中美貿易額更是同比增長 36.6%、達到 4700 億美元。經貿合作可以說是“連筋帶骨”，任何打擊都會“傷筋動骨”。穆迪公司調查顯示，對華貿易戰讓美國失去了約 30 萬個就業崗位，平均每個家庭損失約 600 美元。美國對自中國進口商品加征的關稅中，超過 90%由美國企業和消費者承擔。
According to AmCham Shanghai's latest report in September, 78 percent of the surveyed companies are either "optimistic or slightly optimistic" about the next five years in China. That is nearly 20 percentage points higher compared to 2020. You mentioned just now that USTR Katherine Tai also acknowledged that trade decoupling with China is not realistic in a global economy, and the U.S. is considering a kind of re-coupling with China. We hope the U.S. government will truly change its course and work with the business community to turn economic cooperation and trade into an "ice-breaker" in China-U.S. relations.
我注意到，上海美國商會 9 月最新調查顯示，78%的受訪企業表示對未來五年在華業務展望持“樂觀或略微樂觀”態度，比 2020 年提升近 20 個百分點。你剛才提及美國貿易代表戴琪也承認，與中國貿易“脫鉤”在全球經濟背景下并不現實，美需思考如何與中國“再掛鉤”。希望美方真正改弦易轍，通過政商共同努力，使經貿合作成為打破中美關系僵局的“破冰船”。
Q4: Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have announced the creation of a trilateral security partnership called "AUKUS" and planned to cooperate on nuclear-powered submarines for Australia. How will this affect the regional situation?
Le Yucheng: AUKUS is a small bloc composed of Anglo-Saxon nations. It advocates a new Cold War, and stirs up zero-sum geopolitical games. AUKUS brings only harm, nothing good at all. First of all, it triggers the risks of nuclear proliferation, seriously violates the spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and brings harm to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. It undermines the progress toward a Southeast Asia nuclear weapon-free zone. The recent collision accident of a U.S. nuclear submarine in the South China Sea is an alarming example. Although we have not heard of report of nuclear leak yet, it is still a very serious matter. Frequent entry of nuclear submarines into the South China Sea brings high risks of nuclear proliferation and on nuclear safety. If not handled properly, it may cause a nuclear disaster. At the same time, AUKUS aims to seek maritime hegemony. It stokes arms race in the region, fuels military risk-taking, and undermines regional peace and stability. China firmly opposes AUKUS. Countries in the region and the international community all have plenty of reasons to oppose and resist it.
樂玉成：AUKUS 搞盎格魯—撒克遜小圈子，為新冷戰鼓風，挑動地緣零和博弈，有百害無一利。首先，AUKUS 帶來核擴散風險，嚴重違反《不擴散核武器條約》精神，損害《南太平洋無核區條約》，破壞東南亞無核區建設。日前，美國核潛艇在南海發生撞擊事故就是一個警示。雖暫未聽說造成核泄漏，但性質很嚴重。核潛艇頻繁出入南海，核擴散與核安全隱患很大，弄不好將引發核災難。此外，AUKUS企圖搞海上霸權，加劇地區軍備競賽，助長軍事冒險，破壞地區和平穩定，中方堅決反對，地區各國和國際社會也有千萬個理由共同反對和抵制它。
Follow-up: Some claim that China's increasingly tough stance and growing military prowess in recent years were the reasons that strategic alliances such as AUKUS came into being. What is your take?
Le Yucheng: To find a cover for an egregious act by blaming others, that's unfair and unreasonable. On one hand, the U.S. and the U.K. use sanctions to deter other countries from developing uranium enrichment technology. But on the other hand, they blatantly equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. They dished out "China assertiveness" as an excuse, but it cannot cover their double standard. Their real intention is to draw a line along races, stoke military confrontation, and create tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, in order to profit from it.
樂玉成：干壞事，找借口，讓別人來背鍋，這是典型的蠻不講理。美英一邊高舉制裁大棒，不允許其他國家開發鈾濃縮技術，一邊明目張膽給澳裝備核潛艇，炮制“中國強硬論”當做“遮羞布”，也掩蓋不了赤裸裸的雙重標準。在亞太地區搞種族劃線、軍事對抗、制造地區緊張，企圖渾水摸魚，這才是 AUKUS 這種所謂聯盟存在的真正意圖。